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Finally a real use for NFC: Heart monitor in a credit card

Pay-by-bonk becomes bleeding-edge tech

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Vid We've seen heart monitors built into mobile phones and puck-sized Bluetooth kit, but now iMPak Health has got one down to the size of a credit card and used wireless technology to transfer the data.

The RhythmTrak is a functioning electrocardiograph: when a person presses his or her thumbs onto the pads, rather than display the results it waits for the arrival of an NFC (Near-Field Communications) device to which it can upload the information by radio wave. Given the ubiquity of mobile phones this makes sense, but whether it's a useful diagnostic tool is much more open to question.

Even iMPak Health, which developed the device in conjunction with specialist-in-medical-silicon Cypak as NFC World reports, admits that the vast majority of Americans suffering from irregular heart beats are over 65 - so one has to wonder how many would be able to accurately follow the required procedure and how trusted the results would be anyway.

As Keith Errey, CEO of healthcare tech biz Isansys, pointed out to El Reg during the recent Future World Symposium, a home-performed ECG would be immediately repeated by medical professionals on admission to a hospital so one has to wonder at the value of performing it at all.

The as-yet-unproven idea is that by gathering loads of data points into a gigantic database we'll eventually identify useful health trends to aid illness predictions and diagnosis.

Cheaper kit can only help in that push, and the RhythmTrak will apparently come in at around £25 ($39.99) once it's gone through the medical approval process. But if the data from snazzy devices only ends up in dull databases where proper analysis can be performed, where's the fun in developing those? ®

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